Koolhaas Loses His Marbles Again

When I last wrote about Deathstar architecture, Hank of EcoGeek wrote "C'mon Lloyd...how on Earth did you wind up writing about this? I mean, [I assumed] there was a green angle...but there just isn't. Everything about this project points to useless excess and the kind of pride in big ugly stuff that is 100% problem 0% solution."

That is exactly the point. The picture above is of Rem Koolhaas' design for a new "grand urban experiment" in Dubai, with another dubious deathstar marble.

Nicholai Ouroussoff writes in the New York Times that

"Mr. Koolhaas’s master plan for the proposed 1.5-billion-square-foot Waterfront City in Dubai would simulate the density of Manhattan on an artificial island just off the Persian Gulf. A mix of nondescript towers and occasional bold architectural statements, it would establish Dubai as a center of urban experimentation as well as one of the world’s fastest growing metropolises."

"The core of the development would be the island, which would be divided into 25 identical blocks. Neat rows of towers — some tall and slender, others short and squat, depending on the zoning — line the blocks, as if a fragment of Manhattan had been removed with a scalpel and reinserted in the Middle East."

Now I have been a fan of Rem Koolhaas since school, when he visited the University of Toronto; I have a poster from "The Sparkling Metropolis" Guggenheim exhibition hanging over my desk. He understands cities; in 1978 he wrote in Delirious New York: "Manhattanism is the one urbanistic ideology that has fed, from its conception, on the splendors and miseries of the metropolitan condition -hyper-density-without once losing faith in it as the basis for a desirable modern culture" - and that was a time when nobody thought New York was much of a model for anything.

So I wonder why the world's greatest architects rush to build Manhattans in deserts without water, that are uninhabitable without air conditioning, that as Ouroussoff notes, could turn into "a miniaturized version of a city of glittering towers built for the global elite, barricaded against the urban poor and its makeshift shantytowns."

Hank, there is no green angle; that is the problem and the reason for writing. Surely it is important to note the extravagance, the waste, the environmental impact of building and operating, and the energy that is being consumed to build playgrounds for the rich at a scale beyond understanding. ::New York Times
and thanks for the title to ::Tropolism

Tags: Architecture | Dubai | Energy

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